Psalm 37: A Change in Focus: From Envy to Trust
Living the Christian life isn’t easy. The calling to pursue holiness is not for the weak, but by God’s grace we can fight sin and strive to please Him trusting that He will bless our efforts. But at times it can seem like those outside of Christ are the ones receiving the blessings. Why do those who care nothing of God seem to prosper while the righteous suffer?
As David writes Psalm 37 he is writing to those who are watching the prosperity of the wicked and are tempted to frustration or envy. Psalm 37 is a wisdom Psalm and is organized as an acrostic. It reads like a series of proverbs, but they are all bound together making this point: The people of God must continue to trust Him. We must not be shortsighted, in the end the wicked will be judged and the righteous will be blessed.
After listening to the sermon consider using this five day reading plan to further meditate on the content of the message.
Day One: Psalm 37
Take time to read the Psalm that we considered on Sunday. The notes from the message are available on our website. As David writes Psalm 37 he’s writing to those who are watching the prosperity of the wicked and are tempted to frustration or envy (vs. 1-2). As we look around and see people living confidently in their sin, seemingly without consequence, we can become jealous and bitter, but David wants to help us gain some perspective; we must take our eyes off of those around us and look to the Lord. At the heart of envy is a lack of trust in God’s plan and a misguided search for joy (vs. 3-11) Also, we must remember that while the current situation may seem unjust, in the end the wicked will face judgment (vs. 12-22) and the righteous will be blessed forever (vs. 23-40). We must not be shortsighted; we must trust that God is just and in the end all things will be made right – we will inherit the land.
Day Two: Matthew 5:1-16
In Psalm 37:11 David gives this encouragement: the meek shall inherit the land. He wants us to know that while the wicked may have seasons of prosperity, those who are humble and obey God will receive the blessings of God. In Matthew 5:5 Jesus includes a very similar promise in his list of beatitudes. Here’s some context: Chapters 5-7 of the Gospel of Matthew are referred to as The Sermon on the Mount. While up on a mountain Jesus gives this incredible teaching on the demands of the Law and what it looks like to live as citizens of God’s kingdom. As the ‘sermon’ begins Jesus provides eight parallel statements describing the life of the blessedperson (the Beatitudes, vs. 1-11). While our world values power, prosperity and fame, Jesus describes the blessed person very differently. The blessed person is marked by meekness, humility, mercy and a willingness to endure persecution for what’s right. This way of life is a testimony to the world and is an invitation to others to believe and glorify God (vs. 13-16). While Psalm 37 makes it clear that a life of righteousness will be difficult, the teaching of Jesus reminds us of our calling and of the benefits of living His way.
Day Three: 2 Corinthians 4
In Psalm 37 we are reminded that the Christian life is not without opposition and suffering, especially as we stand for the truth (vs. 12, 14-15, 30-32). However, even in the face of opposition we can trust that God will not abandon us. God laughs at those who oppose Him (vs. 13) and in the end He will be victorious and we will be vindicated (vs. 33-34). As we come to 2 Corinthians 4 Paul is actively suffering for the sake of the Gospel but his confidence in God never waivers. He knows that the Gospel message is not his own; it’s the message of God and it’s accompanied by God’s power and enabling (vs. 1-6). Although Paul suffers for the Gospel he trusts that God will preserve and strengthen him and that his efforts will result in God’s glory and the spread of the Gospel (vs. 7-18). As we stand up for the truth in a world that is increasingly hostile toward the things of God we should find hope: we will never be forsaken and God can use any hardship for His glory and our good.
Day Four: Psalm 73
In many ways Psalm 73 is the perfect compliment to Psalm 37. Psalm 73 is the testimony of a man named Asaph who for a time is overcome with envy and anger over the prosperity of the wicked. Although he has been taught of God’s goodness (vs. 1) he is beside himself with envy and despair as he sees the prosperity of those who have no regard for God (vs. 2-3). Although they are full of pride and even mock God they are healthy, avoid suffering and maintain influence and power (vs. 4-12). As Asaph compares his own life to the lives of the wicked he’s frustrated. He has worked hard to pursue holiness and please God and yet he suffers and feels the constant burden of obedience (vs. 13-16). But everything changes for Asaph when he goes into the sanctuary of God and is reminded of what the future holds for the wicked (vs. 17-20). With this realization comes a new perspective: he is ashamed of his envy and professes his desire to be near to God (21-28). As those who may be able to relate to Asaph’s struggles, we must also turn our attention to God, take refuge in Him and remember what He has told us about the futures of the righteous and the wicked.
Day Five: Psalm 39
Read Psalm 39 in preparation for our service on Sunday. As you read ask yourself these questions: What does this Psalm teach us about God? What does this Psalm teach us about ourselves? Also, take time to write down questions that you have about the Psalm, then come on Sunday and listen for answers to those questions.